Naruto yelled incomprehensibly as he fell out of the portal-thingy. It was worth noting that he fell flat on his face and got a mouth full of dirt for his trouble.
Everyone else landed perfectly.
He blamed that Tobi guy for tripping him.
Naruto got up, spitting out dirt, and rubbing at his tongue. Ugh, that was disgusting. He glanced around, and then back at the portal as the last person, Jiraiya, came through. He waved goodbye to the kind of creepy but still kinda nice girl that had let them through, who waved back, emotionless. Then the portal closed up, and they all heard the man that was her captain and supposedly her creator/father (they hadn't really gotten any confirmation on that point) yelling at her to get back to work.
Tsunade sighed and cracked her back—Sakura took care of the wallop that Jiraiya got for taking a glance during the action—and muttered something to herself, rubbing her temples as she did so.
She sighed again and turned to the others. "Alright, much as I feel the need to be wary of some of you," a pointed glare was sent in the direction of Nagato, Konan, and Tobi, "I do trust Naruto and Jiraiya's judgment on such matters. Not on everything, but these two are normally a good judge of character."
Tsunade turned and strode off to where she could see the village in the not-so-far-off distance, not even stopping to make sure that she could hear the footsteps of people following along behind her. She could, but she didn't exactly check.
It took about fifteen minutes to get to the gates, the guards trying to stop them, but stopping as one of Tsunade's strides turned into a stomp that left a crater several feet deep and several yards wide, with a flippant "It's complicated," thrown over her shoulder to explain the presence of more people than she had left with. They met even more people on the way to the Hokage Tower, but went unmolested as Tsunade's expression (and Yahiko's surprisingly unnerving grin) drove them away.
Shizune was grabbed on their way into the office, and Tsunade finally came around to stand behind her desk.
"Now," turning to the shinobi and that one other girl (what was her name again?), she fixed them all with a glare. "We obviously don't know the Uchiha's current position. Therefore Jiraiya, since he so kindly volunteered, will be investigating this until he figures it out. The rest of you will remain in the city, and will meet back at my office when I say so. Understood?" After receiving a general nod, she signed for one of her ANBU to appear. Not a second later, one did. "Escort our guests to a hotel room."
Konan lay on a bed in the hotel room that she had taken, reveling in the silence before the boys, men, got back; she would be rooming with the girl from the other dimension, Orihime, for the time she was in Konoha. Nagato, Yahiko, and Tobi would be in a room of their own, and she could only hope that they didn't try to kill each other. Nagato could keep calm and detached when necessary, as attested by his constant dealings with the less stable members of Akatsuki. The other two were nowhere near as dependable in that respect.
Unfortunately, the time she took to revel in said silence was brutally destroyed by her thoughts, buzzing around in her head like a swarm of hornets.
The door creaked as Yahiko almost bounced his way in, followed by Nagato, who had a surprisingly irate expression on his face. Konan sat up, and then…
She just stared.
Several minutes passed as Yahiko realized that Konan had been looking at him without a word since he had arrived, and that Nagato had joined in halfway through. He slowed down in his somewhat frenetic movements around the room, and eventually sat down on the bod opposite of them.
Konan's gaze finally left him, dropping to the floor in mild discomfort of her undeniably rude actions. To her credit, there was a very good reason for them. Nagato was the one that answered. "It is… surreal, to have you here."
Yahiko frowned. "You're being stuffy again. And it's surreal?" He snorted. "No s***. I didn't expect to come back to life, and you've obviously had issues because of my death. But after you're dead for a while, you learn to let things go. I had over a decade to loosen up in the Rukongai, and in there you either learn to go with the flow, or you're forced to."
Konan shifted a bit in place, eyes still on the ground, but her attention was grabbed again as she felt a weight settle down next to her. She looked up to find that Yahiko had settled himself in between her and Nagato. He slung an arm around both, hugging them close to him. "H***, you found me after I died, and by complete accident, too. Can't you just accept it and be happy?"
It was strange. Yahiko had always been outgoing in life (or… his first life?), but this was different. He was always just as focused, or more focused, on business or whatever was important as he was on goofing off. Now… he seemed almost hedonistic. He was trying to imagine the moment, and it… it…
She was a trained kunoichi. She was over thirty years old. She was considered an angel by the people of Amegakure. She was the sole woman in Akatsuki. She was one of the few female S-ranks to exist.
And yet she broke.
Konan couldn't help the tears as she suddenly turned and wrapped her arms around Yahiko. She didn't bawl or sob; she was too dignified for that. But she was also a person that had finally come to terms with the fact that her long dead best friend (and ex-lover) had been returned to her.
"Don't you ever leave us again, you hear?" Her voice was a whisper, a hiss.
Konan felt another pair of arms wrap around both her and Yahiko from the other end.
Nagato's hug came with silence, but the silence was one with weight.
The door slammed open.
"Tobi found you!"
Nagato turned a glare on Tobi and slowly stood up. The Rinnegan was in full force.
His voice was deceptively calm.
"I thought you knew to knock."
He took a step towards the lollipop mask.
"After all, you are certainly old enough to know."
"Did Tobi do something wrong?"
Yahiko was the one to diffuse the situation. "Hey, you can teleport, right?"
There were several seconds of silence, and then Tobi seemed to realize that Yahiko had been speaking to him. "Oh! Yes, Tobi can teleport!"
"Can you go to Ame to get my body? 'Cause this gigai thing? Not cuttin' it."
"Uh, Tobi doesn't know if—"
Nagato turned his stare away from Yahiko in order to once more glare at Tobi. "Tobi. Trust me. You do not want to be here at the moment."
"Tobi, I want you gone."
And then there weren't any more lollipops.
Konan pinched the bridge of her nose. So much for their dramatic moment.
Three weeks later, Tsunade rubbed her headache away, fighting the temptation to send for Shizune so she could get some sake.
The day after their arrival, the Ame-nin had sent the masked one back to retrieve their not-so-dead friend's body. With a warp of... something, he had vanished, reappearing a few moments later with the requested body.
To say it was far from any preferred condition was an understatement. While they had been incredibly precise with the placement of the black rods that had littered the corpse, some of them had been required to be placed in spots that would have left been fatal, had they been embedded in a living being. The gashes hadn't been easy to heal, either. At least they hadn't had to remove all the piercings. As Yahiko had deemed them 'cool,' he'd decided to keep a few of the non-damaging ones, on his lip, ears, and nose.
And that had only been her first headache. The day after, the council had nearly knocked down her door. She didn't blame them, of course. She'd decided to send their Jinchuuriki on a joint mission with one of the legendary Sannin, two S-ranked supposed nukenin (they were technically the legal rulers of Ame, but there was still Akatsuki to consider), a dead man, and a non-shinobi from another dimension. Most of the council members didn't approve. A lot of them still didn't.
It wasn't going to stop her, though.
And now Jiraiya had returned from his scouting mission. The team had already been notified. They were heading out tomorrow.
"Tsunade-sama." Looking up from her attempts to focus on paperwork, she was relatively unsurprised to find yet another headache standing in the door.
"What do you want, Danzo?"
"The Kyuubi boy is leaving on that joint mission with those others soon, correct?'
"Why am I not surprised you know about that? Answer the question."
"I want surveillance." At the Godaime's cocked eyebrow, he chose to continue. "We are leaving the Kyuubi with two S-ranked nukenin who are part of an organization whose goals are well known; that is, the capture of the Jinchuuriki and the extraction of their bijuu. This is hardly a secure operation."
"Congratulations. You've noticed the obvious."
Danzo glared at Tsunade. "This is serious, Hokage-sama. We need to fix this."
"And you've come up with a solution?"
"I have an idea..."
Orihime turned another corner, taking in the sights. This place was so beautiful! The sun was shining during the day, and there were just enough clouds to make it nice. The forests were lush and green, and the city had such a traditional style! It was like she was in a whole new world!
Wait... she was.
Taking another turn, she crossed a bridge and found herself on a side path. A few minutes later, a flash of fire in the corner of her eyes drew her attention to the fields along the side. Two shinobi were sparring. These must be the training fields, then.
Watching the two shinobi spar brought her mind back to exactly what she'd been attempting to forget: her teammates for the mission were no doubt packing their bags, getting ready to hunt down Uchiha-san and drag him home. But she wasn't a kunoichi. That much was certain. She couldn't use jutsu, or punch through things with enormous strength, or run so fast she could almost fly...
She was just... Orihime.
Shaking her head, almost as though to shake away the thoughts, she forced her thinking into a happier tone. It didn't matter. Not really. She was Orihime, and she had her own abilities she could use. And that was enough.
Seeing the two shinobi change to hand-to-hand (taijutsu, she thinks), she perked up, a smile stretching across her face again. She can't wait to tell Tatsuki-chan about this!
Naruto rushed up in front of the Hokage Tower, out of breath from the ridiculously fast run that had taken him from Ichiraku Ramen to the Tower door. There was also a large wet spot down the front of his shirt from where he'd spilt some ramen in his hurry to get there when the ANBU had informed him that the mission had finally come in.
Of course, much to his dismay, Sakura was waiting for him there at the gate, right in perfect view to see his disheveled state.
Naruto sent her a look that was half glare, half pleading from his position leaning against the door and doubled over.
"I wanted… to get here… as fast as… I could." He gasped out, and after another minute, he finally stood straight.
"Come on, baka." Sakura sighed and lead the way up the steps. They got to the room, and found, with surprise, that they were the last to get there. Well, it wasn't that important of a detail. They weren't late by much, after all.
Looking around the office, Tsunade nodded to herself. "Now that we're all here..." Pulling a picture out of the folder, she dropped the image on her desk for those who were not a part of Team Seven. "This is your target, Uchiha Sasuke, at the time of his defection. While his appearance has undoubtedly changed, he should be recognizable. Your task is to find him and bring him home.
"Jiraiya has discovered the target's location, at a hidden base in the main part of Otogakure. However, by the time of your arrival, they'll have changed positions to a base near Kusa. Jiraiya knows its location, and will therefore be leading you there."
Naruto nodded, but flinched a little as Sakura suddenly gripped his arm with a rather large amount of force. "Sakura-chan."
"It's… we're finally going after him." She whispered. "It's been over two years since he left, and…"
Naruto smiled, but there was sadness in it, pointed and driving. "Yeah… wish we could take Kakashi-sensei."
Sakura snorted. "It's his own fault for accepting another challenge from Gai and getting hurt. I'm always the one that has to patch them up!"
Yahiko was bouncing on the balls of his feet, humming quietly, and turned to his old friends. "This is actually kind of exciting. I almost forgot what it was like to go on an actual mission!"
Orihime stood next to Konan, actually a little shy in the presence of all these people who had been trained since a ridiculously young age to do something she didn't much like: kill. But they were going to go and save a friend, and she had been in battles before, so it should be alright. Right?
Konan must have noticed how nervous she was, because she turned her head and patted Orihime on the shoulder. "You'll be fine. You said you could make barriers and heal people, right? All you have to do is stay in the back as a reserve in case someone gets hurt. The Haruno girl may get involved in the fighting, but she's also far more trained in avoiding attacks so that she can both fight and heal."
Orihime relaxed a little. She didn't quite understand why, but the kunoichi's words had calmed her down somewhat.
"Another thing," Tsunade spoke again, drawing their attention back to her. "There's been a slight… complication."
"So, are you the team I was told I would be working with?" Naruto... didn't quite know what to think of this guy. His skin was pale enough for him to not have seen sunlight in ages, and while he wouldn't stop smiling, it was just weird.
"My name is Sai." The boy said, closing his book. "I hope we can work well together."
After a moment of silence, Orihime nodded to him, smiling back. "I hope we can work together, too, Sai-san!" After examining him for a moment, she tilted her head. "You're so pale… would you like some food? It might make you feel better." Yahiko quickly moved behind the girl and made a frantic 'don't-do-it' gesture.
Sai, blinking for a moment but quickly recovering, shook his head, fake smile still in place. "I already ate, but thank you for the offer, Inoue-san."
"Alright," Yahiko nodded, grinning. "Now that yet another lunatic has joined the party, let's head out. We have an idiot to catch."
It was so quiet and peaceful in the woods, so calm and free. Orihime giggled and started telling little stories about rabbits or something to Sakura, a dreamy tone in her voice.
It put the shinobi on edge. A mission never went as planned if it was above a C-rank. Trouble always showed up.
…And there was trouble. They'd been wondering where it was.
Two boys blasted in through the trees. One was wearing a black shihakusho, and the other was wearing white clothing adorned with a strange cross.
Naruto wasted no time in attacking, though within seconds, Sakura had realized that attacking whoever these boys were was not a good idea. Orihime seemed to know them. Know them and like them, be a friend, apparently. Their attacks didn't seem very powerful… and they seemed to realize this, as the one with the orange hair had suddenly shouted to the tall, thin one to fall back for a moment because something called a Getsuga Tensho wasn't working. Sakura didn't really know what that would mean, or why someone swinging a sword that large around was claiming to have trouble with an attack when he'd just accidentally cleaved a tree in half while trying to attack Naruto, but she didn't really care either.
"Kurosaki-kun! Ishida-san! Stop!" Orihime's shouts drew the fight to a halt. The girl had a hand up to her chest, clenched in a fist in slight panic, as if trying to squeeze her heart still.
Naruto looked back at the others, noticing that people seemed to be irritated at him for some reason. "What?"
The deadpan looks he received in response were not enlightening.
"Orihime? What the h*** is going on? We thought you were kidnapped!"
Orihime's head tilted to the side. "But I came with them because I wanted to see the magic ninjas."
The next portion conversation, concerning how Ichigo and Uryuu are convinced of the shinobi's innocence in the matter, has been deleted for your benefit. No, really. Don't ask. It isn't worth it. It really, really isn't worth it.
"Well, then I suppose we should come along. For Orihime's benefit." Ishida adjusted his glasses.
"That may not be a good idea." Konan said. "Your powers don't seem to work in the same way here. Had you had time to practice your powers the way Orihime had, you may have been a boon. As it stands, you likely won't be able to utilize your powers in the same manner as you normally would."
Ichigo glared at Ishida for a second, and then smirked and hefted his sword on his shoulder. "Well, I can still use my sword. Maybe I won't be able to use my better attacks, but I won't be useless."
Ishida rolled his eyes. "All I would need is a bow, some arrows, and a quiver, and if we are really in a world of ninja as they say, then that shouldn't be overly difficult. My ability to use advanced Quincy attacks will be nullified, but I can use normal archery just as easily as the spiritual kind."
The two glared at each other.
Naruto knew they were only a few minutes from the village. He knew he had toads fast enough. And he knew someone that would have just about every kind of weapon they needed.
"What kind of bow do you use?"
TenTen blinked as a large toad hopped up in front of her. "Hey, you're TenTen, from Team Gai, right?"
"Great, I need something called a composite bow or something. The note's here in the bag. All the stuff that comes with it too, that would be nice."
TenTen blinked again. She slowly complied with the request, adding in two full scrolls of arrows. The request was obviously coming from either Naruto or Jiraiya. In the case of the former, she didn't want to get involved (his missions had a tendency to go pear-shaped), and in the case of the latter, she really didn't want to get involved (because it was either perverted or involved in S-rank business, neither of which she wanted to know about). This was the second weapon that had been requested by them in as many weeks, the first being a sword for the man with the odd piercings that had stopped by her father's shop with the Sannin.
She watched the toad leave, confused as all h***.
Ishida blinked as the toad, which was the size of a children's wagon or particularly large dog, came back with some scrolls in its mouth.
Well. That was interesting.
Jiraiya knew that more firepower was always a good thing. He didn't need to ask why the two kids from the other dimension were coming along. He honestly understood.
What he didn't understand was why it only took five minutes for the carrot top to get into an argument with Naruto about who was stronger!
And then they switched to the voices in their heads. Joy.
They'd been walking for hours.
With this, Nagato could remember the old days, back before they received shinobi training. He supposed this was the problem with having three members on the team who couldn't run at high speeds for hours on end (or maybe just two, because Kurosaki seemed irritated about the slow speed as well for some reason), but… hopefully, their power would make it worth it. Or at least, it had better.
Jiraiya, who'd been walking at the back of the group for the last hour, suddenly clamped his hands on his living students' shoulders, freezing them in place. After adjusting his grip so he had an arm around each of their shoulders (and slipping a few meters behind the rest as he did), Jiraiya cleared his throat. "It's about time we had a little talk."
"You have one, too?"
"It's just so... annoying!"
Sai, taking up the Sannin's position as the old man (or at least, old in comparison to everyone else in the group) began speaking with his students, observed the rest of the group. Kurosaki-san and Naruto-san, who had finally stopped their argument over who was stronger, had instead been drawn into a conversation on their respective inner voices, Naruto-san complaining about the Kyuubi and Kurosaki-san saying something about an... inner hollow? Whatever that was, it seemed unpleasant.
Yahiko-san, on the other hand, was relaxing while listening to Sakura-san and Orihime-san talk about… who liked who? Sakura-san seemed to have drawn Orihime-san into a discussion on the relationship between the Nara clan heir and a Suna kunoichi (the Kazekage's sister, if he heard correctly) while trying to avoid talking about her own love life.
Ishida-san, on the other hand, was looking irritated at being ignored by Kuro-no, wait. He'd just baited Kurosaki-san into an argument on overcompensation jokes. Naruto-san appeared to be ready to join in.
Sai nodded to himself before speaking up after Naruto-san's contribution. It was time to enter the fray.
Jiraiya's hand came up, and near instinctively the shinobi all stopped and readied their stances, low ones, nearly crouching. The civilian healer, Quincy, and half-dead boy followed suit after actually noticing.
Jiraiya nodded, to the others, and they readied the plan. Konan's form shifted, and origami butterflies filled the air, flapping in just the right way so that they couldn't be discerned as paper. Yahiko unsheathed his new sword, motioning for the extra-dimensional interlopers to ready their own weapons in turn. Nagato did nothing to prepare, but his mind was racing to remember every attack Orochimaru had mentioned while still under his command in Akatsuki. Sakura, Naruto, and Jiraiya crept forward, spearheading the attack that would bring their quarry from the underground bunker.
Jiraiya and Naruto bit their thumbs, flashed through several hand signs, and held the second to last, waiting for the pinpoint of the strategy to get the prey out into the open.
Sakura reared back and smashed a fist into the ground.
And then there was a crater.
A/N- And here's my second contribution. Thanks to Phoenix for wrapping this up for me; I've been having a really rough couple weeks.
Phoenix's Notes: Actually, I'm fairly certain I wrote over half the chapter, and edited the rest due to compatibility issues. But I'm also ridiculously fast when it comes to fanfiction, and Dark-heika really has been having that bad of a week. I hope you enjoyed it!
Also, there's a poll up on my profile. Dark-heika and I discussed it, and we're not quite sure about this: do you want us to use a version of Deidara inspired by my other story, Gender Confusion? Not the plot (or Jiraiya would be missing an arm by now), but the basic personalities, relationships, and powers (sort of: just Deidara's two favorite transformations, really). The main reason being that D-h thinks that Deidara and Hidan's actions and relationship there are extremely cute, so we need to know before more of Akatsuki gets introduced. Go vote!
Note: This one was… kind of scattered throughout the thread, meaning there was never really a cohesive storyline until we tossed Sakura in. As such, all the events listed before the thing with Sakura can be done at any place, any time. Likewise, feel free to add as many events as you like. If you haven't already, I'd recommend reading 8-Bit Theater before starting the epic quest that will result from writing this one.
-Kakuzu gains 8-bit theater Thief powers. Meaning, he can steal anything that isn't BOTH on fire and nailed down. This includes metaphorical concepts, like secrets. And your soul (Note from Phoenix: based off of a canon event in Eight-Bit Theater, where the character, aptly named Thief, actually does steal a soul).
-Either Kakuzu or (later on) Sakura must steal the following objects:
-someone's clothes (underwear included)
-someone's clothes (underwear not included)
-a plane. Twice.
-Dinosaur eggs using TARDIS
-The Eiffel Tower
-Hidan's testicles (which appear on the blackmarket with the eggs... don't ask) (Note from Phoenix: Look up Girl's Next Best Friend, a strip of Manala Next Door, a webcomic by Humon. It will explain everything. Kakuzu knows that Hidan has enough of a healing factor to grow them back… again and again and again and again…)
-the moon (Inspired by Despicable Me)
-Wyoming (Inspired by the fact that it's the richest state in the US)
-the real life versions of the things in Monopoly
-Alice from Twilight (She's to aid Kakuzu with the TARDIS… yeah, that's what leads to the dinosaur eggs and the tomb raiding)
-several history books
-everything from Egyptian tombs
-The deed to a platinum mine
-Itachi must steal everything from Kakuzu, then both nail it down and set it on fire so he can't get it back (It won't work, because the fire ends eventually. You can't nail down ashes.)
-Deidara and Hidan must use one of Kakuzu's planes for extreme leaf pile diving (because Deidara's birds just aren't fast enough)
-Nagato, worried for the fate of the universe, tries to figure out a way to nail down the sun.
-Konan talks him out of it, and then takes him to Sasori for a lesson on astronomy and physics, and why that would be a DEVASTATINGLY bad idea.
-Then Kakuzu rejoices, because the sun is fire, and it's NOT going to be nailed down. Ergo, it can still be stolen!
-Sakura becomes a kleptomaniac, and her first action on seeing Kakuzu is to pick his pockets and grab his briefcase while he's distracted. He steals everything except the clothes on her back (the bottom layers, at least. After all, that skirt could sell for something, even if the shorts need to stay on so that he isn't called a pedophile) simultaneously with her theft.
-Later on, she comes back and expresses wishes to learn from him (able to steal anything not nailed down and on fire).
-He warns her that she'll be considered a missingnin. She said that if she learns from him, she can just steal back her honor and prestige.
-Seeing the logic, he decides he can get along with his new apprentice (for now at least) and agrees. But, because nothing is ever free with Kakuzu, everything she steals during her time as his apprentice belongs to him, and, after he teaches her his trade, she is forbidden from stealing from him.
-Anyways, he decides that, as a final test of whether or not she's worthy of being his apprentice, she has to steal a large amount of money from Konoha.
-She gets it from the Uchiha compound, in a cruel twist of fate. Just to be on the safe side, though, she grabs a couple of Jounin's wallets along the way.
-Pleased with his apprentice's offerings, he accepts, and takes his new minion with him as he continues on with his new mission to collect a bounty (she caught him when he was on his way to collecting his latest pay) before returning to base.
-The next day, Tsunade is greatly confused when her apprentice doesn't show or call in sick or anything.
-Then she (Sakura) finds Sasori at the base and teases him endlessly about how she was half the reason he 'died' (we decided he would just be 'killed' and brought back in his regular teenage form for no reason other than something to do with fangirls using it as a common tactic). Then she questions him about how he was adjusting to life as a human being again... as well as uncomfortable topics that only a medic or unashamed pervert can ask about without blushing madly.
-Then Kakashi and Naruto show up in Konoha.
-Naruto immediately begins scouring Konoha for his friend/ crush, while Kakashi begins asking around. Said Jounin discovers that many of his friends discovered their wallets to be missing, and begins to suspect... something. He just doesn't know what yet.
-They get Neji and Team Eight to help (barring Kurenai, who is heavily pregnant), and find out about the missing Uchiha funds, and the place where Sakura and Kakuzu apparently met up
-The Sakura retrieval team (lead by Kakashi) find the place, and are puzzled to find that she obviously met with someone. Neji points out the obvious, that this all makes her seem incredibly suspicious, but Naruto has too much faith in his friends as usual and believes her to be kidnapped (might as well parody the previously mentioned fics, right?)
-Might as well. Even after they catch up, and Sakura cheerily informs them that she'll come right back after she learns how to steal everything from their souls to their shoes to their dignity to their alcohol tolerance to their sense of smell to the Hokage Tower, Naruto still believes that she has been kidnapped, and, due to the fact that she seems inordinately happy, also brainwashed.
-Sakura then takes the time to carefully explain (using the smallest words possible) just why it's impossible to brainwash someone. She's just taking lessons from a known murderer/thief!
(The concept of stealing their trust is amusing, though. And… stealing their alcohol tolerance? If you think about that, the possibilities are endless... she could also be the greatest infiltrator ever, just by stealing the thoughts and memories of her existence/the possibility of her being an infiltrator as her subject thinks of it. Not to mention she could win any fight instantly, as she could steal her opponent's fighting capabilities... great, now I want that kind of power.)
-And explains that most ninja are, as per the job description, known murderers and thieves. Then Kakuzu steals their memories of the incident and there state of consciousness, leaving behind a note that they better pay him if they want their memories back.
-After moving them far away from the hideout, of course. He's not an idiot.
Anyways, Sakura is then put to her next task: stealing someone's life without killing them (the ultimate assassination technique).
-Sakura fails miserably, but that is due to the fact that stealing a life is exceedingly difficult and Kakuzu wasn't expecting her to come anywhere close to succeeding. However, she does find out that she is somewhat more skilled at stealing people's HEALTH than anything else: she finds a way to make herself immortal.
-So, after that interesting bit, she begins working with the simpler things. Like stealing the clothes off someone's back (as well as large amounts of general training).
-At one point, she begs Sasori to teach her how to use puppets, or at least better methods of creating poisons. He refuses, but she steals all the puppets he's remade since the destruction of his old set and holds them hostage until Kakuzu comes by and tell Sasori to just agree and make her stop whining.
-Eventually, Sasori does give in. Meaning Sakura starts learning how to use poisons/chakra strings.
-Then, at one point, she notices that he looks pale and clammy. As it turns out, his immune system isn't up to snuff because of his many years stuck as a puppet.
-After running a diagnostic to find out exactly what's wrong, since it's not severe, she decides ordering bed rest for him is best.
-And promises, with a terrifyingly sweet smile, to enforce that advice if necessary. Sasori agrees out of partial disgust (he wants her gone from his room), partial respect (the fight, and she's a medic that worked under TSUNADE), and partial fondness (as he has worked with her for several weeks by this point), though he doesn't realize that last one. Sakura leaves...
And starts asking Itachi to help her with genjutsu.
-Itachi attempts to ignore her, but Sakura finds it's easy to steal pocky from the man. Add that to good timing and holding said sweet hostage, and...
-He decides to teach through example. He may be a nice guy and a pacifist deep down inside, but she took the pocky! Ergo, Sakura finds herself spending the next few days not knowing what is real and what isn't.
-Sakura, for future reference, declares the pocky forbidden territory. On the bright side, she does get much better about knowing when illusions are in play. In the end, Kakuzu requests Itachi allow his student to take a break because it's time for them to go out on a mission again, this time collecting a bounty in Fire Country.
-They run into Team Ten, but Sakura manages to convince him not to try and take Asuma's head. This, of course, leaves her friends in the throes of confusion, as she cheerily skips off after Kakuzu. Ino notes that Sakura somehow seems happier than she was in Konoha, and then they all turn to leave... only to notice that they have nothing on their person other than their underclothes. Ino in particular blushes and dives behind a convenient nearby tree.
-Later on, Asuma reports what they saw to Tsunade, confirming once and for all that, yes, Sakura has really gone rogue, and yes, she is currently apprenticed under a member of the Akatsuki (Tsunade knew she should have had that kleptomania treated when she had the chance).
-People are especially concerned by the rumors of various objects, supposedly mundane, disappearing around their houses at the most inopportune times. Then, they find Sasuke outside the doors one day, with a head full of amnesia. He says that all he remembers from after the massacre (which is the point at which his memory disappears) is a crying pink-haired girl saying that she was sorry, but she had to steal his memories, and then leaving; then he saw the village in the distance and came back. The Yamanaka confirm it, and the scroll that Sasuke carries with him is apparently filled with the still-living bodies of his Hebi team (Karin, Suigetsu, and Juugo).
-Naruto is amazed, and Tsunade decides that Sakura isn't a lost cause (yet) after all. As such, roles have been reversed; Sasuke is now back in Konoha and is learning from Kakashi to help bring back the skills he forgot he had, and Sakura is the one Team Seven needs to recover (and, by extension, will continue roaming as a nukenin until she decides to come back... or has her memory wiped and is deposited back at said village, but that's not likely).
-The difference being that Sakura happily promised to come back as soon as she learned to be a true Thief, whereas Sasuke just outright defected. Sakura's is more like an extended training trip, or a long vacation, on which she just so happens to be fraternizing with the enemy.
When Sakura and Kakuzu get back to the base, she sets about on her next task: repeatedly vivisecting Hidan again to figure out his immortality.
-after performing many a vivisection on Hidan, Sakura gains a much better idea of the human anatomy than she would have without the live test subject. So, her next task (unless the vivisection is a punishment) that she sets for herself is to figure out how to disable opponents effectively using her medical knowledge to her advantage, and just generally practicing crossing her mad strength with the precision in medical practices. Later on, after returning to the base (and selling the clothes and materials stolen from the Konoha shinobi; might as well make a profit off it), While Itachi is on a mission with Kisame, Sakura instead meets with Deidara and Tobi (both trying to 'help' Sasori, each in their own way).
-Sakura tries to tease Sasori again, but finds her way being blocked by two supposedly angry nukenin. She manages to get them off-balance by grabbing Deidara's arm, looking over the damage to his elbow, and then ordering him to come to the infirmary so she can fix it. Tobi comes along too, and hears Sakura mention how fun it's going to be once Kakuzu teaches her how to steal people's secrets. He starts to worry…
-And decides to just convince her not to steal his secrets by convincing her he doesn't have any. If that fails, he'll just try to kill her in her sleep. Key word being try.
-Sakura sleeps like Akane and Ranma, that being that she fights imaginary enemies in her sleep, and sometimes unconsciously uses her chakra enhancement. So she beats up Tobi without even realizing whenever he tries to kill her. He's just convinced that she's super paranoid.
-The next day, Sakura's back to her illusion training. Since she brought his brother back to Konoha, Itachi's feeling much more merciful this round, and therefore doesn't make her quite as… disorientated as before. Instead, he has her practicing making illusions, as well as recognizing them (with their expendable test dummy, of course).
-Who is, as always, Hidan. Soon after, Kisame and Itachi are sent out on a mission, as are Kakuzu and Hidan, and she can't come. Which means she's left with the artists, the bosses, the cannibal, and... Tobi.
-Sasori is busy, meaning Sakura is bored (she knows better than to interrupt Konan and Leader, after all). Later in the day, she sees Tobi bothering Deidara, and uses her (limited, but usable) capabilities with chakra strings to throw said annoyance at Zetsu. Deidara, seeing her act of kindness, decides to reward her by 1- get her out of Zetsu's line of fire (and throwing Tobi under the bus as a result), and 2- …showing her his art. Because who wouldn't be entertained by massive explosions?
-She begs him to take her flying, because she wants to get high up and see what it's like. He acquiesces, but Konan catches them because both are whooping like the teenagers they are as Dei does rolls and loops and things.
-Konan and Deidara are engaged in a battle of wills, which Konan wins because 1- she puts up with Nagato, and used to put up with Yahiko, she has no doubt learned the art of winning epic stare downs, and 2- she outranks him. Therefore, Deidara is forced to stop… only for him to drag Sakura out to do something in town, because he's bored like that and he's decided she's his plaything for the day.
-Sakura, at the same time, decides that he's her plaything as well. When Kakuzu returns to the base, it's to find that Deidara and Sakura managed to clean out three nearby casinos, just through poker. He actually hugs her in a doting manner, which makes her giggle and smile happily. Then he pats Deidara on the head absentmindedly as he leaves the room. Everyone present is confused barring Sakura (obviously), and Hidan (who saw enough weird mood swings from Kakuzu, both when Sakura was around and not, that this isn't too weird for him).
-The next day, Hidan and Deidara make a decision: it's time to get drunk. Of course, they drag Sakura into it, as it soon escalates to include most of the Akatsuki (Itachi, Leader, and Konan being the notable exceptions). During said time, the team ends up telling stories. Sakura somehow jumps to telling about her time in the Forest of Death, when she resolved to be a competent shinobi. This leads to Konan (who's keeping an eye on the rest of them, as it's her turn apparently) deciding that they're going to have a girl's day the next day.
-Drunk Tobi accidentally activates his intangibility during that episode, and spends most of his time panicking about not being able to touch anything... On the girl's day out, Konan takes Sakura to an onsen, and there they run into Temari. Konan isn't wearing her Akatsuki cloak, but Temari's heard about Sakura's... vacation from Gaara, who was told by Tsunade in case the pinkette passed by Suna
-Temari is surprised to see Sakura there, and is automatically suspicious. Said pink-haired kunoichi lies and says they were just stopping there for some relaxation on their way through (discretely stealing quite a bit of money from the unsuspecting woman, and tries to steal her disbelief while she's at it).
-She fails at stealing the disbelief, but does manage to steal her clothing, and later her memories. She leaves only the Tessen. She later ruminates on the fact that she's extraordinarily good at stealing memories, but has a lot of trouble at stealing anything else that isn't real.
-After selling the materials (again), Sakura and Konan enjoy the rest of their day before heading back. Later that night, Temari is found by Kankuro, who recognizes that thieving ability.
-Suna tries to get involved, but soon realizes that Sakura, despite consorting with missingnin, is, at most, just stealing things. She hasn't even killed anyone, and got Sasuke, a missingnin (Karin), a voluntary test subject (Juugo), and a kidnapped test subject (Suigetsu) to Konoha without harming a single one of them and even fixing a few latent issues like Sasuke's recent insanity. She'll probably be put on D-ranks and probation when she gets back, but not jail, they decide. Kankuro does, however, spend several weeks teasing Temari about being left somewhere with nothing but the clothes on her back and her war fan (which came in handy against perverts who tried to take advantage of her half-dressed state).
-The next day is spent working on her skills with Kakuzu, though later on she ends up working with Itachi. However, during her genjutsu lessons, she notices something seems wrong with him...
-The illness? Alright. Sakura immediately goes to Konan after her class is over and brings the issue up with her. She then takes her to Pein. He tells her to give it her best shot and that she has free reign so long as Konan is there to make sure she doesn't go overboard. Itachi wakes up one morning to find himself strapped to a table. In the room are Konan with a vaguely disinterested look in her cloak (normal), and Sakura in a sexy nurse outfit stolen from Zetsu's cosplay closet (NOT NORMAL! NOT NORMAL!).
-Konan asks Sakura if the nurse outfit was really necessary, which Sakura replies that it was. After examining Itachi (and calling in Hidan for an expendable test dummy to help with the progress... and because, no matter what Hidan says, vivisecting him is fun), and just generally abusing the fact that the Akatsuki's definition of overboard is very different from that of a normal person's, she figures out what's wrong with Itachi. (She figured that out ten minutes in; she wasn't apprentice to the slug Sannin/greatest medic nin ever for nothing. She just wanted to have fun while doing it. Because, really, when would she get the chance to play psychotic nurse to someone other than Hidan again?)
-She steals all the bacteria and dumps them into an expendable basin, which she orders burned. Then she sets to healing Itachi's lungs, completely ignoring Hidan, who is on a nearby table, pretty much looking like he's undergoing an autopsy, despite being alive. I say autopsy, because that is the exact pattern in which he's been cut open. He's also yelling obscenities at her, but she then detaches his jaw and sets it to the side. After he continues to yell, albeit nonsensically, she also removes his vocal cords. At that point, she realizes that nothing can make him shut up, and just puts his head in a box. Konan's expression barely changes.
-And so the entire day is spent. Of course, she keeps a sample of the disease to use it to infect Hidan and vivisect him at a later time so as to study the effects of the disease, but... (she'd bribe him into silence on the matter with that it's another way of inflicting pain on his victims). Later in the day, Sakura gets caught returning the nurse cosplay outfit to Zetsu. At first, she's worried he'll be mad (it's covered in blood, after all)... but then he says he likes it with the new additions, and pats her on the head before escorting her from his room.
-She decides to spend the next day bugging Tobi. Of course, bugging Tobi is next to impossible. They grab Itachi (still a little woozy from the healing, and thus far more agreeable than normal), and go to a candy shop. And then another. And another.
-When they get back, Itachi has a ridiculous amount of pocky, Sakura immediately sneaks off to hide her new stash before Kakuzu finds out, and Tobi is enjoying a lollipop that greatly resembles his mask. Oh, and a lot of the money for said stashes came out of Itachi and Tobi's funds, mostly because Sakura's are basically nonexistent at the moment.
-Except for the secret stuff that Sakura purchased on the sly with money she picked off of a few unaware Kumonin, one of whom was a Jounin. Hey, if they were going to be THAT inattentive...
-And the stuff she just stole. She's a thief's apprentice for a reason.
-True. The day after that, she decides to bother the artists. So she starts a fight between them, waits until they're really going at it (non-sexually, of course), and then poses the question of whether Konan's origami is art. While said kunoichi is only a few feet away. And neither artist realizes.
-As origami is not made with eternity in mind (although it can last forever under the right circumstances), Sasori believes it to be a lesser form of art. Deidara, on the other hand, says that while origami is not art, Konan can make it artful due to her ability to make it change constantly. Sasori, of course, then says something about how her use of it is only a mimicry of true art, as it only exists as long as she needs it to.
-At which point Konan steps up, and shows Sasori just how effective her art can be. Many puppets now have razor thin slices in them, and Sasori is forced to subject himself to Sakura's medical ministrations, during which she chastises him for insulting someone that is clearly more powerful than him. The cuts are healed quickly enough, but she keeps him afterwards to give him a general checkup since she wants to know if he's actually been taking care of himself.
-Later that night, Tobi attempts to assassinate Sakura. This time, he uses poisons. The result is she gets sick the next day (thank you, Sasori).
-People trying to assassinate Sakura again? For shame. Pein decides that, since it was poison, it was probably Sasori's fault. Ergo, he has to take care of her until she gets better. Kakuzu threatens to steal Sasori's soul and trade it to the devil if his new apprentice dies.
-Sasori does take care of said girl, and, taking a blood sample, recognizes the poison as one of the ones he helped her form an immunity (or at least resistance) to. He teases her lightly over it, but helps make her comfortable anyways (and, in a way, proves his innocence, with Sakura at least. Why would he try to kill her using a poison he made her immune to, after all? He'd at least use one she wasn't immune to).
-True. In a far corner of the base, Tobi curses his luck. Unfortunately, Deidara passes by right at that moment, and begins to suspect something. On the other hand, Kakuzu decides to teach Sakura business theory so that she knows what to do with what she steals once she has it in her hands. Ergo, Sakura has to read a large number of economics textbooks while bedridden.
-Well, at least she won't get bored. And she still has her puppet slave to do her bidding in the meantime. Deidara decides that it's his duty to investigate this stuff (mostly because it's his Danna's innocence on the line, but partially because Tobi might have tried to kill his plaything).
-Of course, he decides to go about it in a completely ridiculous manner, and drags Itachi and Hidan into it. Half of their 'spying' is them making fun of little genin and Academy students by hiding in bushes with binoculars and bad camouflage paint.
-So, they end up stalking Tobi in said manner during his grocery run (since it's his turn). Meanwhile, Itachi brings Deidara's earlier evidence to Sasori, who begins to take his own measures to obtain evidence.
-Kakuzu walks in on Itachi and Sasori's planning, but their heads are rather close together over a paper as they discuss something, and while they manage to hide the paper, they don't realize in time what it looks like… which leads to Kakuzu assuming SasoIta or ItaSaso… Of course, he tells Sakura and Hidan when he next sees them.
-Hidan ends up laughing hysterically. Sakura, on the other hand, sees immense blackmail potential. After all, both Itachi and Sasori are well known criminals... and any well-known anything is guaranteed to have a fanbase.
-Sakura decides to get revenge for the irritation that Sasori treated her with during her first week there by… setting up a correspondence with Ino via messenger bird and scroll, just for the sake of exchanging gossip. Ergo, Konoha gossip gets to Sakura (ZOMG, KURENAI'S PREGGERS! IT'S ASUMA-SENSEI'S!) and Akatsuki gossip gets to Ino, and thus Konoha, and thus the world (You know, Kakuzu walked in on Itachi and Sasori yesterday. They were either planning something or, and sensei thinks it's the latter, KISSING).
-Ino is, of course, greatly surprised when the (likely stolen) messenger bird shows up at her window. She is equally surprised to find that Sakura sent it, and naturally goes about spreading her new gossip material as soon as she receives it... largely freaking out poor Sasuke. Naruto, on the other hand, quickly wonders how she's getting her new material, and Ino ends up telling Sakura on a side note on her next message that Tsunade would welcome her back when she returns, as she hasn't gone down the 'true' path of a nukenin yet.
-Sakura is confused by that, but brushes it off in favor of going over the new gossip that was also in Ino's letter. Then she catches Zetsu reading over her shoulder.
-She, of course, jumps in surprise and says something about just keeping in contact with her old friend.
-He asks what else she's been writing, and she shakily takes out all the other letters, including the doubled copies that she made of her originals so that she could look over what she wrote afterwards. Zetsu reads through, and the white side bursts out laughing after only a few letters. Then he suggests a few other embarrassing things about Akatsuki that she could spread via Ino. Sakura's only rules are not to go overboard, and not to embarrass Kakuzu (teacher!), Zetsu (helping!), Konan (scary! but nice...), or Pein (TERRIFYING! but... wait, just terrifying...).
-Zetsu and Sakura stay up the whole night, and what was originally just exchanging blackmail becomes an all-out gossip-fest. They even get snacks and nail polish and Sakura lets Zetsu do her hair.
-A few weeks later, Sakura ends up working with the artists due to Kakuzu thinking their most recent mission would be a good learning experience for her, since she needs to learn to work with/ around more teams than just him and Hidan (Deidara being fully supportive of the notion and Sasori not exactly against it). While she's just there to rob everyone blind and make a profit, the artists themselves are actually working on an assassination. Of course, this creates problems when Team 10's latest client is their target.
-Sakura actually acts a little awkward around them, but it is later revealed to be a distraction for two things:
1. So that Sasori and Deidara could get the client (unnecessary, but they appreciate the effort).
2. It's an act so that Team Ten doesn't notice her stealing their things… including knowledge about a certain Jutsu from Asuma…
-As she leaves, she (of course) says something that makes them notice she stole the clothes off their backs before running (which leads to blushing and yelling, and Deidara smiling smugly, greatly amused when they meet up again).
-On the way back, the three stop off at a bar…
-And Sasori gets alcohol into his system for the first time in over twenty years. Unfortunately for both Deidara and Sakura, who were hoping to see him drunk, he only has a single cup of low alcohol-content sake, which isn't enough to get him even buzzed, despite his relatively low tolerance.
-After grudgingly realizing his Danna isn't going to get hammered any time soon, Deidara decides to get drunk himself. Naturally, after getting buzzed, he starts trying to get Sakura to join him in the land of alcohol.
-In revenge, she pushes him out a window. Thankfully, it's a ground floor window, but he still lands on his face. The next morning, medic and puppeteer drag his a** back to the base.
-The next night, when Kakuzu asks about her mission (and collects the money she made on it… good girl) and discovers Deidara tried to get her drunk, he decides it'd be best to take protective measures. The day after, Deidara feels like something's… missing, but can't figure out what.
-Later that day, it's revealed Kakuzu stole a portion of his free will… and gave it to Sakura. Meaning, if she says 'jump' (until she takes mercy on said bomber and returns it), he has no choice but to respond 'how high?'
-She drags him with her to go cliff-diving. Hidan comes along to see how it goes. This, of course, means that Kakuzu and Sasori come along, just to see how badly this is going to go.
-During this occurrence, Hidan annoys the others enough to be pushed off the cliff, Deidara is forced into jumping off multiple times, and Sakura just has fun, jumping off with Deidara when he's not being forced off as punishment, since she's positive she won't die (mostly due to Deidara facing worse punishment if he lets her).
-The next day, Sakura orders Deidara to carry her piggyback around the base... and then to help her kidnap a friend from Konoha because she's been missing them and kind of wants some non-criminal company for a few days.
-And so, they hatch a plan to kidnap someone. Said plan... mostly involves waiting outside the gate for said someone to come by.
-Since it was decided that that was as good a time as any to break off the story, you get to decide who. Have fun.
As for relations... here's our discussion on that (Phoenix: this is plucked directly from our conversation, involving our discussion. Surprisingly, I'm the whiny one. Not that I imagine Dark-heika to be whiny, but the fact that I'm admitting to my "whininess" online…):
D: Hm... I think that:
-Nagato would remain professional, though he'd come to count her among the sane ones (unless she's in her slasher mode, AKA when Hidan presses a berserk button).
-Konan would attempt the same, but would end up fawning over her eventually (off and on at least).
-Kakuzu would be the crazy old uncle/father figure
-Hidan would eventually grow to somewhere between protective older brother and cool older brother, although closer to the former (but only when it counts).
-Deidara would share his role with Hidan, but would be closer to the cool older brother than the overprotective one.
-Sasori would remain mad at her for quite some time, but his assassination attempts would eventually fade into somewhere between half-hearted attempts and secretly giving her an immunity to most poisons (and might eventually teach her how to use them, depending on how things go).
-Itachi would remain distant, as he doesn't want to accidentally give Sasuke a reason not to kill him
-Kisame will likely end up as the 'cool uncle'.
-Lastly, Zetsu will forever freak her out
-and Tobi will likely end up as the infuriating little brother (going off apparent mental age) that's amusing on a good day, and varying shades of annoying the rest of the time.
As for psychological/ inevitable skill gains, she'd really develop her slasher smile, open her mind to less socially acceptable means of doing things, would be utterly desensitized to all manners of strangeness, would likely gain keen survival senses, would just generally get stronger, and would get really, really good at intimidating people by using her medic nin status.
P: Huh... you put a bit of thought into this. I like the idea of her softening up Nagato and eventually finding Zetsu awesome. Please?
And she could always steal Itachi's heart, and show it to him...
D: Sure, why not?
To prove he still has one? Cute.